Imara is a lithium-ion battery maker running very much against the off-shoring trend. Imara is based in Menlo Park and makes their new tech batteries there. I spoke with Neil Maguire, VP of Business Development at Imara. He told me the manufacturing of the cells is being done at the headquarters to protect their proprietary process. Imara gained their technological edge by licensing a materials process developed at SRI. That independent laboratory was operating under a Department of Energy research contract set up in 1999. It was specifically aimed at making better batteries, especially aimed at the next generation of motor vehicles. Somebody was clearly thinking ahead. And this tech has not escaped to competing nations.
iMiev. Photo by CBS Interactive.
Maguire was confident lithium-ion will be the next generation of vehicle batteries, eventually replacing the old-fashioned lead-acid, and the larger nickel-metal hydride currently used by the Prius. Overall Maguire is very optimistic about the future of hyrbid and plug-in cars. Imara is preparing to help meet the expected demand.
One major advantage of the lithium-ion, he says, you get the same power with about half the battery weight as required from nickel-based batteries. In any portable use from laptop to vehicle, that's a big advantage. Imara is operating on VC funding, and not seeking any government loans.